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II. So writes Xiphilinus. We are therefore led directly to the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius, in which is the earliest account we can expect to find of Antoninus's regard for the Christians.
He is not reckoned among the persecuting emperors. Nevertheless the Christians were persecuted in his time; otherwise there could have been no occasion to present apologies to him; and that Justin's first apology was addressed to him is allowed. It is inscribed in this manner : • To the emperor Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus the pious, and to his son Verissimus, and • Lucius, and the senate, and all the people of the Romans, in behalf of men gathered out of • all nations, who are unjustly hated and ill-treated, I Justin, son of Priscus, son of Bacchius, one • of them of the city of Flavia Neapolis, in that part of Syria which is called Palestine, make this - address and supplication.'
And, not to take notice of any other passages of it, the same apology concludes in this manner: · If what has been now offered be material, pay a suitable regard to it; but if all this • be of no moment, let it be slighted as trifling: but do not treat as enemies, and appoint death . for men who are guilty of no crimes. And we foretel unto you
And we foretel unto you that ye will not escape the · future judgment of God if you persist in this injustice.'
Which plainly shews that the Christians were then persecuted, even to death.
III. Eusebius, having given an account of Justin's apology, and quoted the beginning of it, goes on: • And the same emperor d having been applied to by other of the brethren in Asia, * complaining of the many injuries which they suffered from the people of the country, sent an ( edict to the common council of Asia, which is to this purpose: “ T'he emperor-to the states of Asia sendeth greeting. I am well satisfied the gods will not suffer such men to be con
cealed; for undoubtedly they are more concerned to punish those who refuse to worship him • than you are. But you only confirm these men in their sentiments, and make them more • obstinate, by calling them impious, and giving them vexation : for they are not so desirous to • live, as to be prosecuted, and suffer death for their God. Hence they come off victorious, laying • down their lives rather than do what you demand of them. As for the earthquakes of the • former, or the present times, it may not be improper to advise you to compare yourselves with • them, and your sentiments with theirs : for when such things happen you are dejected, but they are full of confidence in God: and you, in the ignorance you are in, neglect the other
gods and their rites, and the worship of the Immortal likewise : and the Christians, who • worship him, you banish and persecute to death. Before our time many governors of pro
vinces wrote to our deified father about these men. To whom he wrote that they should not • be molested, unless they did things contrary to the welfare of the Roman government. Many • also have informed me about the same men; to whom I returned an answer agreeable to the • rescript of my father [Adrian.] If therefore any person will still accuse any of these men as • such, (as a Christian,j let the accused be acquitted, though he appear to be such an one (that "is, a Christian ;] and let the accuser be punished. Set up at Ephesus in the common assembly of
And that these things were so done, adds Eusebius, •is attested by Melito bishop of • Sardis, who flourished at that time, in what he says in his excellent apology, which he made • for our religion to the emperor Verus.'
Melito's apology was presented to Marcus Antoninus' about the year 177. From that apology Eusebius, in a following chapter, makes a large extract : a part of which I also must transcribe here, reserving the rest till hereafter: Of all the Roman emperors,' says Melito to Marcus, • Nero and Domitian only, who were misled by designing men, have shewn enmity to
our religion. From them have proceeded the evil reports concerning us, that are received and • propagated by the vulgar; which have often been checked by your pious ancestors, who by
edicts have restrained those who have been troublesome to men of our religion. Among . whom is your grandfather Adrian, who wrote, as to many others, so particularly to Minucius
which however were not very prejudicial to his subjects.' θανατον οριζετε. Προλεγομεν γαρ υμιν, ότι εκ εκφευξεσθε την It is plain that this author had a very favourable opinion of εσομενην το Θε8 κρισιν, εαν επιμενετε τη αδικια. Titus Antoninus. I should be very glad to see his work: but C L. 4. c. xi. xii. it has never come in my way.
Cap. xiii. p. 126. -υπερ των εκ παντος γενες ανθρωπων αδικως μισεμενων
-τοιαυτης ηξιωσε το κοινόν της Ασιας διαταξεως. . και επηρεαζομενων, εις αυτων την προσφωνησιν και εντευξιν
i See Vol i. p. 359. TOIDUAL. Apol. pr. et ap. Euseb. H. E. L. 4. c. 12.
8 Euseb. H. E. 1. 4. cap. 26. -και μη, ως κατ' εχθρων, κατα των μηδεν αδικBντων
Fundanus, proconsul of Asia. And your father also, at the same time that you governed all • things with him, wrote to several cities, that they should not give us any vexation, and among * them to the Larisseans, and the Thessalonians, and the Athenians, and to all the Greeks. And
we are persuaded that you, who cannot but liave the like regard for us, and are yet of a more • humans and philosophiral disposition, will grant all we desire.?
So writes Melito. And hence, and from whiat Eusebius before said, may be concluded with certainty, that not only Justin presented an apology to Titus Antoninus, but that other Christians also, from divers parts, had applied to him; and that he had sent favourable orders to the Larisseans in Thessaly, and to other Thessalonians, and the Athenians, and to all the Greeks in general, which may comprehend the Asiatics, for whom Melito in particular seems to have pleaded.
Nevertheless there are difficulties relating to that edict, before translated, said to have been sent to the common council of Asia. Some think it was given by Titus Antoninus, others by Marcus Antoninus: and others suspect it to be a forgery, and really sent by neither of those emperors.
And among the ancients there is some difference of opinion. By Eusebius, whom I have transcribed at length, it is supposed to have been sent by Antoninus the pious. _ This letter, or edict, is also at length in the Paschal Chronicle ^ and in Nicephorus Callisti. By the former it is ascribed to Antoninus the philosopher, by the latter to his predecessor. Zonaras follows Eusebius, as does also Xiphilinus, before quoted. Orosius does not expressly mention this edict; but he says that.“ Justin presented an apology to Antoninus the pious, and that thereby the emperor was rendered favourable to the Christians.
Among the moderns likewise, as before hinted, there are various sentiments. Valesius, the learned editor of Eusebius, and the other ecclesiastical historians, dissents here from his author : he says the · letter is Marcus's, and that Eusebius was mistaken in ascribing it to the elder Antoninus. Of the same opinion are 'Scaliger, Huet, Basnage, and ' Pagi. By · Baronius, · Cave, and " divers others, it is supposed to have been sent by Antoninus the pious. As the argument of the Benedictine editors, on the same side of the question, is not very prolix, I shall put a part of it below. They say, with Tillemont, that the authority of Eusebius, who ascribes . it to Titus Antoninus the pious, ought by no means to be slighted: he only could call Adrian • his father, and was the only emperor after him who favoured the Christians; for Marcus was • always unfriendly to them; and it is certain that he wrote the same things to the Larisseans, and the Thessalonians, that are contained in this letter to the states of Asia, that they should not be troublesome to the Christians.
But some suspect the genuineness of this letter, as Mr. Dodwell, who says it ° is so Christian, that he can hardly think it was written by a heathen emperor. Thirdly P rejects it as a plain forgery. Dr. Jortin goes into the same opinion, saying: • It was forged by some Christian • before the days of Eusebius,' and Reimar wisheth that 'some farther light might be obtained for clearing up the difficulties relating to it.
a P. 259.
0 L. 3. cap. 28. © Tom. 2. p. 206.
d Verum Justinus philosophus librum pro Christianâ religione compositum Antonino tradidit, benignumque eum erga Christianos fecit. Oros. I. 7. cap. xiv.
• Errat Eusebius, qui Antonino Pio hanc epistolam tribuit, cum sit divi Marci. Annot, in Euseb. p. 60.
i Animadv. in Euseb. p. 219.
m Balduin. Edict. Princep. Rom. p. 86–92. Tillem. Anto-
, qui Antonino vindicat, rationum momenta breviter referam. 1. Eusebii auctoritas, qni eas Antonino tribuit, maximi debet esse ponderis. 2. Antonino conveniunt, qui Adrianum solus appellare potuit parentem buum, ac solus post Adrianum illâ ætate favit Christianis.
Hunc enim constat ea ad civitates, ac nominatim ad Larissæos, ad Thessalonicenses, ad Athenienses, ad universos denique Græcos scripsisse, quæ in literis ad Commune Asiæ leguintur, nempe nequid novi adversus Christianos molirentur. At Marcus semper Christianis iniquus fuit. Præf. ad Justin. M. Pars 3. cap. v. num. iii.
• Sed mihi fateor suspectuni esse, magisque ad mentem Christianorum esse conceptum, quam illud concepturus fuerit gentilis Imperator. Diss. Cypr. xi. num. 34.
p Tot viros doctos et graves ludos fecit unus, idemque non vaferrimus, nebulo, qui boc rescriptum confinxit-Emendatione autem nostra dignum non censuimus figmentum ineptum et puerile. Thirlb. in Justin. M. p. 101.
9 Remarks upon E. H. vol. 2. p. 168. See also p. 174.
' Quoniam vero ne veteres quidam sibi constant, utri Imperatorum adscribenda sit; et, quamcumque teneas sententiam, difficultates aliæ obstant inextricabiles ; operæ pretium fuerit, clariore quam factum est adhuc luce discutere dubia, ni tota illa epistola conficta quibusdam liberius judicantibus debeat videri. Reimar, in notis ad Dion. Cass: p. 1172. al. 799. *Adversa ejus temporibus hæc provenerunt: fames, de quâ diximus, circi ruina, terræ motus, quo Rhodiorum et Asiæ oppida conciderunt. Quæ omnia mirifice instauravit. Capitolin. Antonin. Pius. cap. 9. p. 169. Vid. et Dion. Cass. lib. 70. p. 1173.
I think this rescript could not be written by Marcus Antoninus, who was always averse and unfriendly to the Christians, as we shall see hereafter. If this letter had been written in the first year of Marcus's reign, as Valesius thought, or in the fourth of it, as Pagi and Basnage say, the Christians would not have suffered such persecutions in his time, as they did in many places. Nor would there have been so many apologies presented to him, as we know there were. Nor could Melito have omitted to take notice of it. He reminds Marcus of the rescript of his grandfather Adrian, and the letter of Antoninus, his father, to several cities ; much more would he have reminded him of his own letter in favour of the Christians, if there had been any such thing
As for the suspicion of forgery, I see no plain evidence of it. I do not discern the hand of a conceited and pedantic sophist; nothing but what might come from a good-natured magistrate, as Antoninus was. There had been some earthquakes in Asia, and other countries not far off. The heathen people were much terrified by them, and ascribed them to the vengeance of heaven, because the Christians were numerous among them: and they had thereupon committed great outrages: of these injuries the Christians made complaints; and the emperor, in his letter to the states, pleasantly reprimands his own people, the heathens, upon both those accounts, that is, for their timorousness, and for their cruel usage of the Christians, their neighbours: and he as agreeably commends the Christians for their intrepidity, or composure, amidst such dangers; and sends orders that they should not be any longer abused as they had been.
I think, then, that this rescript was sent by Titus Antoninus the pious, as Eusebius 6 supposed. But, allowing that to be doubtful, we learn several things from what has now passed before us.
The emperor Antoninus the pious must have had good knowledge of the Christians and their principles: he was favourable to them, and must have been well satisfied of their innocence. To him Justin presented a long and excellent apology, still extant, a most valuable remain of Christian antiquity. By Eusebius, and others, we are assured it had a good effect. And, if it had not been of some advantage to the Christian interest at that time, Justin would scarcely have thought of making any more addresses to Roman emperors: and his addressing another apology afterwards to Marcus Antoninus is an argument that he had some encouragement to it by the success of his former apology.
To Antoninus the pious applications had been made also by other Christians beside Justin: and he wrote to the Larisseans, the Thessalonians, the Athenians, and all the Greeks in genera that they should forbear to give trouble to the Christians, as such, and unless they were guilty of some offence contrary to the welfare of society and the peace of the Roman government: by which we must understand, at least, that he confirmed the rescript of Adrian, sent to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia. All this we are fully assured of from the apology of Melito, presented to Marcus Antoninus: for none can admit the suspicion of an attempt to impose upon so knowing and so great a man as that emperor. By all which we may be assured that Antoninus the pious was persuaded of the innocence, both of the principles and of the conduct of the Christians; which are largely insisted upon in the apology of Justin Martyr.
And, as it was the design of all the apologies at that time to clear the Christians from the charge of the crimes imputed to them, it is reasonable to believe that all the other apologies from different persons and several countries, agreeing in their accounts, they concurred together to give full satisfaction to this good and vigilant emperor, Antoninus the pious; for that is one part of his character: he was inquisitive about every part of his government: “He knew all * the concerns of the empire, and of all the people subject to him, as distinctly as he did those • of his own family.' Nor were the least things overlooked by him: which • is sometimes mentioned to his advantage, and at other times as a fault, and almost the only fault that could be
b.Some more observations for shewing that this rescript was sent by Antoninus Pius, will appear near the end of the chapter of Marcus Antoninus, in wbat is there called the Summary of the Argument.
c Tantâ sane diligentiâ subjectos sibi populos rexit, ut omnia et omnes, quasi sua essent, curavit. Jul. Capitol. Vit. Tit. Antonin. cap. 7. p. 261.
4 Και το ζητητικόν ακριβως εν τοις συμβολιοις, και επιμονον, αλλ' και το προαπεση της ερευνης αρκεσθεις ταις προχειροις φαν» TATIAIS. Marc. Anton. de Reb. suis. lib. i. cap. 10.
charged upon hin, that a he was too inquisitive, and prying into little things. That • temper however must have been of use to divers people; and, upon many occasions, this in particular. By most men at that time the Christians and their affairs were despised, as unworthy of regard: and it is one great concern of all the Christian apologists, to excite the attention of the Roman emperors, and the Roman governors of provinces, and of all other people in general, and to induce them to inquire and examine, and take cognizance of the Christian cause, and their affairs: which, as it seems, this emperor had done, to his own credit and their benefit.
CHA P. XV.
THE EMPEROR MARCUS ANTONINUS THE PHILOSOPHER.
1. His time and character. II. The passage in his meditations concerning the Christians, with
notes and observations,
1. Marcus Aurelius ANTONINUS Philosophus, or Marcus Antoninus, surnamed the philosopher, was born in the reign of Adrian, the twenty-sixth day of April, in the year of Christ 121. He succeeded Antoninus the pious on the second day of March in the year of our Lord 161, and died on the seventeenth day of March in the year 180.
The virtues of his private and public life have been greatly commended and highly celebrated: but, if a comparison were to be made between Antoninus the pious and Antoninus the. philosopher, I should be disposed to give the preference to the former.
Aristides the sophist, in his panegyric upon this emperor, says that, before he came to the empire, he restrained and prevented many disorders and mismanagements in the government
of public affairs : and insinuates that great injuries were done, and many things carried with “ violence and insult.' But, as • Tillemont observes, · Aristides seems to have aimed to decry « the government of Antoninus, in order to extol that of Marcus. But,' as he adds, “the sophist
therein shewed greater regard to the laws of oratory than of truth. For, according to histo- rians, Marcus did not at all excel Antoninus in moderation, and the care of the public.'
Some other learned men ' have formed a like judgment concerning this emperor.
Marcus, however, deserves great commendation upon many accounts. Tillemont, having given a history of the rude and disagreeable treatment which he received from Herodes Atticus, and Marcus's obliging behaviour to him afterwards, adds: “There are many Christians, whom ** this mildness of a heathen emperor will condemn in the last day.'
In the year 175, Avidius Cassius rebelled, and set up himself for emperor, and was soon
2 Iδων αυτος ο Σειληνος εφη: βαζαι της μικρολογιας εις ειναι μοι δοκει των διαπριοντων το κυμινον, ο πρεσβυτης ετος. Julian. Cæs. p. 312. A. ed. Spanh.
Λεγεται δε ο Αντωνίνος ζητητικος γενεσθαι, και μηδε περι τα μικρα και τυχοντα της ακριβολογιας αφισασθαι· όθεν αυτον οι OXWTTOYTES XULIYOTPISYV Exaary. Xiph. ap. Dion. 1. 70. p. 1173.
• Neque vero dubito, Xiphilinum loqui generatim, et intelligere accuratum et diligens studium, in quâcumque re, etiam minimâ et obviâ, inquirendi et rimandi id quod verum rectumque esset. Reimar. ad Xiphilin. loc. modo citat. not. a.
Vid. Pagi ann. 180. n. ii. Basnag. ann. 121. viii. et 180. i. Tillemont L'Emp. M. Aurele. art. i. Fabr. Bib. Gr. 1. 4. cap:
23. T. 4. p. 20. &c.
-όρων πολλα της βασιλειας και καλως εδε οσιως διοικα μενα, αλλα πολλην αυθαδειαν και ύβριν και ακολασιαν εγγι
νομενην, 8κ εια αυξεσθαι-Τοιοτος δε προ το βασιλεύσαι ην.
e M. Aurèle. art. iv.
| Vide vero hic infelicitatem temporum Marci, quo nullus Imperatorem justior et sapientior putatur! Princeps minime malus philosophicis meditationibus animum pascebat, non admodum curiosus eorum, quæ in imperio gererentur. Interea magistratus impune voluntati suæ obsequebantur, quasque venerari videbantur leges, turpissime violabant. Moshem. de Reb. Christianorum. p. 244. Dubitavi dudum, tantus num fuerit Marcus, quantus esse plerisque omnibus et olim visus est, et hodie videtur -Bonum virum fuisse, valde licet superstitiosum, dubitare nolo; boni vero imperatoris et principis nomen an mereatur, dubito. Id. ibid.
8 L'Emp. M. Aurele, art. xiv.
defeated. Marcus's a clemency toward the family and the accomplices of Avidius is universally allowed to have been very extraordinary, and even above all commendations. Upon that, and many other occasions, he shewed that he was master of himself, and had a great government of his temper.
But, to be a little more particular concerning this renowned emperor and much admired heathen philosopher.'
He was a youth of great expectations, and was beloved by Adrian from his childhood. That emperor introduced him into the college of the priests, called Salii, at the age of eight years. And Marcus made himself complete master of all the rules of that order, so as to be able to discharge himself all the functions of the priesthood.
He was early initiated in the principles of philosophy, and put under the tuition of the most able masters of the several sects. At 8 the age of twelve years he put on the habit of a philosopher, and wore their cloak. He also practised austerities, so far as to lie
the bare ground; and was difficultly persuaded by his mother to make use of a mattress, with a slight coverlid. When emperor," he sometimes went on foot to the schools of Apollonius and 'Sextus, stoic philosophers. I do not know whether it be worth mentioning, that " he placed in his private chapel golden statues of his deceased masters, and honoured them by visiting their sepulchral monuments, offering there sacrifices, and strewing upon them flowers.
Zonaras, entering upon the history of a war in Germany to be taken notice of by us hereafter, says that 'Marcus was weak in body; and so intent upon his studies, that he went to school after he was emperor, to hear several philosophers, and others, whom he there names. Dion Cassius ► speaks to the like purpose, and Zonaras seems to have copied him: but, by the place where it is brought in, it seems to have been the intention of Zonaras to insinuate that the great difficulty into which Marcus was brought, in the war with the Quadi, was owing to his want of military skill, he having been so much taken up with philosophical studies.
Before he entered into the war with the Marcomans, and other people in Germany, he performed lustrations for the city of Rome, and called together priests from all quarters to offer sacrifices, and adopted even foreign rites; for the doing of all which things his departure from Rome was delayed. He seems to have been sometimes ridiculed for the great number of his sacrifices.
Marcus had faith also in dreams: and says himself that he had thereby learned remedies for staying his spitting of blood, and for curing a dizziness in his head.
Of Antoninus his predecessor, and father by adoption, he says. "he was religious without superstition;' and, in another place, that · he' was not a superstitious worshipper of the gods.' Marcus therefore knew that religion and superstition were different, and that there might be
a Vid. Capitolin. Vit. M. Antonin. cap. 24, 25. Vulcatius bus lectulo cubaret. Id. cap. 2...~XQTo orijetrodos nas dopas Gallicants in Vita Avidi Cassii. cap. 7. &c. Basnag. ann. 175. επιθυμησαι, και όσα τοιαυτα της Ελληνικης αγωγης εχομενα. Tillem. Marc. Aurèle. art. 18-21.
De Reb, suis. 1. i. sect. 6. * Laudes Marci exuperat omnes, quod scriptas ad Cassium h Usus est et Apollonio Chalcedonio Stoïco philosopho. epistolas cunctas prius conscidit, quam legerit, ne cogeretur Tantum autem studium in eo philosophiæ fuit, ut adscicus quempiam invitus odisse. Basnag. ann. 175. num. iv. jam in imperatoriam dignitatem tamen ad domum Apollonii
• Propterea vir ille divinus, neque satis unquam cognitus, discendi causâ veniret. Capit. cap. 3. vel laudatus. Is. Casaub. ad Capitol. de Vita M. Aurel. cap. i Philostr. Vit. Sophist. 1. 2. c. ix. Dion. Cass. 1. 71. sub 2. p. 293.
in. Suid. V. Mapxos. á Fuit a prima infantiâ gravis. Capitolin. cap. 2. in- k Tantum autem honoris magistris suis detulit, ut imagines tantæ admirationis adhuc juvenis. &c. Eutrop. 1. 8. cap. xi. eorum aureas in larario haberet, ac sepulcra eorum aditus
e Educatus est in Adriani gremio, qui illum (ut sopra dixi- hostiis, fioribus, semper honoraret. Capit. cap. 3. mus) Verissimum nominavit; et qui ei honorem equi publici Zon. Tom 2. p. 207.
m Dio. I. 71. sub in. sexenni detulit, octavo ætatis anno in Saliorum collegium re- Tantus autem terror belli Marcomannici fuit, ut undique tulit. Fuit in eo sacerdotio et præses et vates et magister, et sacerdotes Antoninus acciverii, peregrinos ritus im leverit, multos inauguravit atque exauguravit, nemine præeunte, quod Roman omvi genere lustraverit, retardatusque a bellicâ proipse carmina cuncta didicisset. Capit. ib. cap. f.
fectione sit &c. Capitol ib. cap 13. ' At ubi egressus est annos, qui nutricum forentur auxilio, Marci illius similis Cæsaris, in quem id accepimus dictum. magnis præceptoribus traditus ad philosophiæ scita pervenit Οι λευκοι βοες Μαρκα τω Καισαρι: Αν συ νικησης, ήμεις αποId ib. cap. 2. in.
aouega. Amm Niarell. I. :5. cap. 4 Philosophiæ operam vehementer dedit, et quidem adhuc Το δι' ονειραταν βοηθηματα δoθηναι, αλλα τε, και ως μη puer. Nam duodecimum annum ingressus, habitum philo- ατυειν αίμα, και μη ιλιγγιαν. De fieb. sis. 1i. sect, ult. sophi assumsit, et deinceps tolerantiam, quum studeret in 9 Και ως θεοσεβής χωρις δεισιδαιμονιας. Ιb. 1. 0. sect. 30. pallio, et humi cubaret, vix autem matre agente instrato pelli- " Και το μητε περι θεές δεισιδαιμονειν. Ιb. 1. i. sect. 16. VOL. IV.